Plans for a roundabout at routes 30 and 29 in Vail Mills are progressing and final design approval is expected in a couple months, state Department of Transportation officials said Thursday.
The DOT held a second public information meeting on the project Thursday to recap the progress so far and map its future.
According to Stephen Zywiak, regional design engineer, the roundabout should reduce the number and severity of accidents and improve the flow of traffic in the area.
The current construction cost estimate is $5.09 million; add-ons, such as construction inspection services and design work, will push the figure to about $6.4 million, according to DOT plans.
DOT officials said their polls show people tend to fear and worry about navigating the roundabouts before they’re built but the majority of drivers embrace them after they’ve driven through them.
Planning Director Jim Mraz, who has navigated roundabouts in Malta and elsewhere, agreed.
“It’s like anything new. It takes time to get used to. Once people get used to it, they will be fine. DOT is building these throughout the state and it’s Fulton County’s turn,” he said.
DOT officials said they’ve built 44 roundabouts in the state and the traffic-flow and accident-reduction statistics show they work.
“They’re OK,” Mraz said. “Like any intersection that you’re at, you’ve got to be careful. As long as you use good judgment, you’re going to be fine.”
DOT officials said the accident rate in the Vail Mills area is 31⁄2 times higher than the state average.
The project started in 1992 when officials identified structural deficiencies on the 1927-vintage Route 30 bridge over the Kenyetto Creek. At the time, the project cost estimate was $826,000, plans show.
That bridge would be replaced as part of the project under review. Work would also take place at the Route 30 and county Highway 155 intersection, where a new three-way traffic light would be installed.
New sidewalks are also on the drawing board. Herb McLain, the Mayfield supervisor, wasn’t happy to hear that the town would have to maintain them.
“That’s the only sidewalk in the town,” he said.
Still, McLain favors the roundabout.
“Anything’s got to make an improvement down there,” he said.
DOT officials said design approval is expected in July. The job is scheduled to go out to bid in November 2009 with work to start in 2010 and be completed by the fall of that year.
Zywiak said Thursday’s meeting will be the last until construction starts. Then there will be a meeting to advise the motoring public about the actual work.
He said the bridge will be replaced in two phases to accommodate one-way traffic in both directions and said officials expect traffic backups as a result.